Law and technology
Google adwords and
european trademark Law
Is Google violating trademark law by operating its Ad Words system?
WheN the Dot-Com boom began in the late 1990s, many ana- lysts and observers proclaimed the death
of intermediation. Supply chains
seemed to become shorter and shorter as new B2C companies emerged in
Silicon Valley. These companies could
deal with their customers directly
over the Internet, rendering distributors, wholesalers, brokers, and agents
While some traditional middlemen
have indeed become less important as
Internet commerce has developed, we
have not seen a general death of intermediation. Rather, many new intermediaries have arisen on the digital landscape over the last 15 years. Just think
of Amazon, eBay, or Google. If all these
companies have been successful, it is
not because they have removed all barriers between producers and consumers. They have been successful because
they offer innovative services located
between producers and consumers
along the digital supply chain.
The law often has a difficult time
coping with new intermediaries.
Should an Internet service provider be
held liable for violations of copyright
or criminal law committed by its cus-
tomers? Is Yahoo obliged to prevent
French consumers from accessing a
site where Nazi memorabilia is sold?
Can copyright holders compel peer-
to-peer file sharing systems to remove
copyrighted material or to screen for
such material? Are domain name reg-
istries required to check domain name
registrations for trademark violations?
Is eBay liable for counterfeit product
sales on its site? To what extent should
Google be allowed to offer excerpts
from copyrighted books in its Google
Book service without the consent of the
relevant rights owners?
PHO TOGRAPH BY GWENAëL PIASER